This deer season started out pretty good for us. My son-in-law Sam Allen took a doe on opening day, and I also arrowed a nice doe in October. But the sightings became few and very far between.
The game cameras I have out on the Atchafalaya Delta Wildlife Management Area showed a few deer, but much less than last year. And just like last year, almost all were snapped exclusively at night.
With all this in mind I had two weeks of vacation in November to try to change my luck and get this season jump-started again. While I did not hunt everyday, I did hunt most of the days, many times making a morning and afternoon hunt. But the weather wasn’t in my favor, as temperatures remained mild, with little rain to speak of. The few cooler days still provided me not one deer sighting. But I was not frustrated, because regardless of if I do or don’t see deer, just being in the woods strategizing my next move is very enjoyable to me.
My wife will sometimes ask me if I get bored just sitting in a tree day after day, but I rarely do to be honest. I know it is hard for her, and others, to understand what it is that draws some of us to put in so much time to a sport that requires vast amounts of patience — often with very little reward.
Actually, it is hard to explain — but for me the payoff of one nice buck lasts me a very long time. I get as excited as a kid or anyone who just killed their first deer. That’s just me — even at 59, a thrilling Saints or LSU win, or a nice big buck just sets me off. I call it enjoying life.
With all that said, my two-week vacation was coming to an end and I hadn’t seen a deer from the stand the entire month of November. Heading out on a nice cool morning, my thoughts were on my last-chance hunt, as the next day I was heading back to work. Checking my game cams did not instill much confidence: Again all but one were night pics, except for a medium-sized spike that came by in the early morning daylight.
One positive was the beautiful 9-point, 200-pound buck I had seen the previous afternoon at a nearby camp. They had shot it on a private lease close to the Delta. They claimed that the rut had started — but I wouldn’t know, because I was not seeing any deer.
So as I headed out to hunt well before daylight, I hoped like every other day, that my luck would change and today would be the day I was able to take another deer.
I settled into my stand with only a few mosquitoes buzzing as the cool temps kept them somewhat at bay. The lack of wind had me on full alert to try to catch the slightest sound. At 6:45, I thought I heard a soft splash. Slowly turning my head , I saw a nice buck heading my way. It was coming directly towards my stand and was at 35 yards.
I drew back as its head went down for a moment. At 20 yards it turned broadside and that was all I needed. My arrow hit its mark and the buck turned and scampered alway. I thought that the deer fell just out of sight, but you never really know until you know.
I gave it a little time, then got down and looked for my arrow. I found it at the spot of impact and it was covered in blood. The blood trail was profuse and short: It had gone down within 25 yards. It was a 9-point, with a nice heavy-framed body. Believe me when I tell you how excited I was.
I have shot quite a few 8-, 9-, even 10- and 11-point bucks at the Delta, but it has been a while. Now I have my 8-year-old grandson Baylor Allen, who calls his Pop after every hunt to ask if I got one and or at least saw one. Day after day I had to come home to tell my little buddy, “No, Pop did not see a thing today.”
He was not born yet or was too young when I shot my previous nice bucks. So this one was very special to me. I knew as soon as I laid eyes on that nice buck that my little buddy was going to be ecstatic, as well. Sure enough, after I got him checked in at the weigh station, I could not get home soon enough to share my experience with Baylor. When he saw the buck, his face was priceless. It brought me so much joy to see him so fired up and excited.
Including the youth hunt, Baylor has hunted with his crossbow five times this season with me. When he gets his first deer, that is going to be an event.
After quite a few pics and high fives, Baylor came to help me skin and clean the buck. We did that at my Dad’s house, and several generations of deer stories were shared as we celebrated the buck.
That's why I sit up in a tree day after day, month after month, season after season — just to experience a moment in time like that one.
Good hunting, be safe and God bless. Happy holidays!